This fall, remember to get your flu vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older receive an annual flu shot. Everyone should be vaccinated yearly because immunity to flu viruses declines over time and circulating flu strains often change from year to year.
Dr. Indu Gupta, Onondaga County Health Commissioner, explained, “Getting your flu vaccine is the single best way to prevent getting the flu.” Dr. Gupta further emphasized that the flu vaccine is especially important for children and adults at high risk for complications from the flu or for those who have contact with people at high risk. People at high risk include:
- Children 6 months through 59 months of age
- People 50 years of age and older
- Pregnant women
- People of any age with chronic medical conditions such as asthma, heart disease, and diabetes
- People who have a weakened immune system due to any cause
- People who live in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
- American Indians / Alaska Natives
- Persons who are extremely obese (BMI ≥ 40)
- People who live with or care for those who are at high risk for complications including:
- Health care workers
- Household contacts of persons who are ≤ 5 years of age and adults ≥ 50 years of age
- Household contacts and caregivers of persons with a medical condition that put them at high risk for complications
Many types of vaccine are available this year, including vaccines for people with egg allergies, and vaccines especially for senior citizens. The flu nasal spray vaccine is not offered in the United States this year.
Children under the age of nine who have never had a flu vaccine before will need two doses of vaccine. The second vaccine should be given one month after the first vaccine. If your child is under the age of nine, but has had two flu vaccines in the past, even if they were not in the same flu season, only one dose is needed.
Getting a flu vaccine is the best way to protect your health as well as the health of your family, friends, and others. In addition, good hand hygiene and practicing cough etiquette throughout the season will reduce your chance of getting the flu. Talk to your health care provider or pharmacist to ask about getting a flu vaccine today! If you do not have a health care provider or health insurance, call the Onondaga County Health Department at 435-2000.